Causeway Chronicle

Sun has set on another successful Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

The Sea Dragons Viking longboat arriving on Rathlin Island. 

The sun has set on this year’s Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival after 10 days of celebrations amid sunshine, soaring temperatures and a packed programme of events.

The festivities began with the traditional ‘Blessing of the Boats’ ceremony on both Rathlin Island and in Ballycastle. Huge crowds visited Ballycastle seafront to kick start activities over the Bank Holiday Weekend. The festival concluded on Rathlin Island with the ever-popular island raft race.

The diverse programme of events incorporated some of the much-loved old favourites, including traditional boat demonstrations, sand sculpting competitions, the Naturally North Coast & Glens Artisan Market, large kite displays, have a go kayaking and paddleboarding and historical exhibitions.

The Phoenix tall ship was a welcome addition this year, allowing visitors to experience the vessel with a unique trip onboard, meeting the crew and learning more about the ship, which is known for its TV and film appearances. The Phoenix also created a beautiful backdrop to the festival as it sat in the bay, admired by passers-by. 

The Causeway Shantymen provided atmospheric sea songs and folk music alongside the Sea Dragons 37-foot Viking longboat, a static display joining the festivities for the first time. 

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Steven Callaghan said: “This year’s Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival once again saw crowds flock to the North Coast to enjoy a fabulous programme of activities and bask in the glorious sunshine. There was a fantastic carnival atmosphere at Ballycastle seafront, which was wonderful to see. 

“With such a wide variety of events, displays, exhibitions and of course the artisan market, there truly was something for everyone to enjoy. The festival gets more and more impressive each year, and I look forward to seeing how we can top it in 2024!”

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council would like to thank the wider community of Ballycastle and Rathlin Development and Community Association for their friendly welcome and assistance. A sincere thank you also goes to everyone who contributed to the festival’s success this year and all those who participated in the extensive programme of events.

To find out more about other upcoming events in the borough visit or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Entertaining the crowds at the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival.

The Causeway Shantymen providing atmospheric sea songs and folk music.

Children taking part in the festivities at Ballycastle seafront.

The large kite display on Ballycastle beach.

Young people competing in the raft race as part of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival.

Crowds enjoying the artisan market at Ballycastle seafront.

Getting involved in the activities on Rathlin Island.

Ursula Burns, The Dangerous Harpist

Pic 112: Crowds enjoying the festivities on Rathlin Island.


Maurice Bradley